Live Nation Closes Deal

Live Nation‘s acquisition of House of Blues Entertainment closed November 3rd and was officially announced the following Monday. Live Nation now owns, operates and/or has booking rights for more than 170 venues, including the addition of 10 HoB clubs in major markets.

Also included in the deal is the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, and eight major market sheds.

“The House of Blues brand is one of the most highly recognizable names in live music and we are excited about the strong foothold House of Blues provides us in the small-sized music venue segment of the market,” LN President/CEO Michael Rapino said in a statement.

The $354 million acquisition of House of Blues fits in well with Live Nation’s plans to scale down its ownership of large properties and focus more on mid-level venues, a sensible position given the declining number of artists currently capable of filling stadiums and sheds.

Live Nation is retaining the House of Blues brand on the club level, and plans to expand it to as many as 30 clubs worldwide, including the possible re-branding of current LN venues, Pollstar has learned.

With Europe and the United Kingdom already representing more than half of Live Nation’s profit, the resources and capitalization already exist to back the introduction of House of Blues clubs worldwide.

The U.S. Department of Justice notified both companies that the acquisition was cleared of any possible antitrust questions on October 27th – much earlier than anticipated.

The speed of the deal’s approval caught company officials by surprise; issues of redundancy and transition are yet to be worked out and that evaluation will take place over the next 30 days.

“Headcount reduction,” or “layoffs” in layman’s terms, is expected to take place by the end of the year, though staffs have been told that layoffs won’t necessarily come from the HoB sector. In addition, those whose jobs are deemed redundant will have the opportunity to apply for similar Live Nation jobs in other markets including Europe and Asia, where the company sees the greatest opportunity for expansion.

With the recent award of booking rights at the Jackie Gleason Theatre in Miami Beach, Fla., the name of the venue is expected to be changed to The Fillmore at the Fabulous Jackie Gleason Theatre.

The Florida venue may be only the first of possibly five or six more Live Nation venues to be rebranded with the legendary Fillmore name.

But what the House of Blues acquisition ultimately means for Live Nation is the diversification of its North American venue mix, filling in gaps on LN’s shed circuit in the western U.S. and expanding its reach into Canada.

Along with the venues and a respected brand name, Live Nation also acquires HoB’s well-established Web presence and fan portal – which dovetails nicely with LN’s expansion and focus on digital and Internet operations to connect fans to the company in ways that reach beyond the concert experience itself.

– Deborah Speer